Archive for the ‘Good news!’ Category

Hi, I don’t have anything in particular to say. Just that I am awesome and have done practically everything on my to-do list and it’s only 2:30!

My recipe for success:
– Get up at 6 with your baby
– Do the stuff you can do while he’s awake while he’s awake
– Take a nap
– Take him to the drop-in centre (if you don’t have a baby, these are government-funded centres where you can take your baby to play and interact with other babies; sort of like the off-leash dog park, but for babies) and tire him out
– During the long nap which follows, do everything else


For various reasons this is what Cecil sleeps in now

For various reasons this is what Cecil sleeps in now

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OK. So where do I start?

In the middle of December Gus stopped eating. He simply refused his dinner one day. After giving him a few days to get over it in case it was just stomach upset (Doctor Google informing me that a loss of appetite in a dog isn’t a cause for alarm unless it lasts more than 2 days), I spent pretty much an entire week with him at the vet (first our own, then a specialist) as they ruled out one diagnosis after another and he got sicker and weaker. His gums were practically white, he had no energy, and he moved like he was a hundred years old. As I was getting him down the stairs onto the subway platform to go to the specialist, a guy waiting for the train said to his friend “Wow, look at that old dog! He’s got to be like 15!”

Gus is 5.

Anyway, as I said, the easy and inexpensive conditions got ruled out one by one.

Worms? No.
Had he eaten a foreign object? No.
Had he gotten into some kind of poison? No.

Eventually it got down to ulcers vs cancer. And it didn’t look good. An ultrasound showed a mass on his spleen which we were told was 80% likely to be cancer and even if it wasn’t would eventually burst and kill him anyway. He had a biopsy for the spleen mass and an endoscopy for the gut bleeding and…

…he didn’t have cancer.

The spleen mass wasn’t even a tumour, just a nodule of spleen tissue and not a danger to him, at least right now. What he does have is inflammatory bowel disease, which can be really serious, but not as bad as cancer. “Change his diet to something he’s never had before,” the vet said. “Bring him back next week and we’ll see if he needs medication.”

We changed his diet, and I think Gus must have had this for a couple of years, because he is not only fully recovered, he is back to the energy and activity level he had when he was about 2 1/2. He played with toys the other day. He has not shown interest in toys in YEARS. Yesterday he happily spent about 20 minutes in the back yard sniffing around in the snow. He is scent vocalizing on walks again. He is all sleek and bright-eyed and happy. I mean, he is still Gus, so he’s still an abnormally lazy dog, but he is so much better it is amazing.

So that was my Christmas! For about a week we thought Gus was going to die, then he got miraculously better. It took all the money we had saved and then some, but he is going to be OK.

Because we didn’t want to travel with a very sick dog, we hosted Christmas here instead of visiting our families. My mother insisted on bringing Christmas dinner already cooked, because you will pry cooking for the holidays out of her cold dead hands, and Cecil got so many presents I think we will have to buy another house to put them in. Ben’s parents came a few days later and Cecil got even more presents, including a little hockey jersey with “Lil C” on the back.

Anyway. It was lovely to have Christmas in my own home, though I could have done without having Gus visit death’s door to make it happen.

Merry Gusmas!

Merry Gusmas!

Right after Christmas Ben came down with a terrible cold, which I came down with a few days later (right after visiting Ben’s grandmother, thereby probably taking out half a wing of the the seniors’ home) and Cecil a day or two after that. So this is basically a plague house. I feel a lot better, though fairly zombie-like (zombesque?) after a few nights of terrible baby sleep.

But hey, it’s the new year, when people decide to better themselves in spite of knowing they will fail utterly in two or three months! So what am I going to do to make myself a better excuse for a human being?

I really only have two things:
1. Learn how to be more productive with my time while looking after Cecil
2. Get some kind of non-music part-time job.

The key to 1 is, I think, limiting my time on Twitter, the major time-suck in my life, and the key to 2 is probably divine intervention because I have no non-music resume or skills, but you know, you gotta give it a try. I just want to diversify where my income comes from and make a bit of extra money in a somewhat more low-stress way. I love teaching but I can’t handle more than about 15 hours/week. It is too energy-consuming. So if you are looking to hire someone to work for you for about 12-15 hours a week doing something relatively mindless for a decent cause, I am your lady.

I’m giving myself a lot of time on that one, because as I said I have no resume to speak of and the job market is in the shitter, so I’ll be really impressed with myself if I can make that happen by the summer.

And to round out my “What I did on my blogging vacation” essay, a really simple recipe!

Cinnamon syrup

I made some peppermint syrup for Christmas lattes (just simple syrup + flavour extract) and it was such a hit I made syrups with all the extracts I have, including anise (which turned out awesome, BTW – it tastes exactly like those candies you get after dinner at Italian restaurants). Here is my first attempt without using an extract.

1/3 C sugar and
1/3 C water.

Stir to dissolve. Add:

Around 2 tablespoons cinnamon bark

and bring to a boil on medium-low heat, stirring occasionally. Simmer for 2 minutes. Don’t let it really boil or you’ll make some really disgusting candy. Remove from heat and let stand for at least an hour or, if you’re me, forget about it entirely for an afternoon while you do other stuff. Strain into a glass container – those little baby juice bottles are perfect. Just label it so you don’t accidentally give your baby a whack of cinnamon-flavoured sugar instead of apple juice. About 2 teaspoons sweetens your coffee and gives it a nice cinnamon flavour.
You will notice I didn’t resolve to blog more often or bring back the podcast or anything, though I do want to; I can’t promise that 2013 will see more than a handful of blog posts either. But hey, if you made it all the way through this, at least I gave you a little sweetness for your morning brew.

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Because I am completely insane, I decided to apply to the Montreal International Music Competition of 2012. Even though it takes place at the end of May/beginning of June, when not only will Ben be away on tour but I will have about a 3-month-old baby to look after.

But hey, it’s my last chance (I’ll be too old next time), so why not?

Anyway, the first round of the competition is – as always – a recording. Which I made in mid-November, being unsure as to how being massively pregnant would affect my singing (not too much as it turns out, but how would I know?). And yesterday I got the final mixes of the raw tracks.

The rules of the competition state that you cannot edit your tracks (as in, no splicing, no partial retakes, etc) – that each track should be a faithful representation of your live performance. I don’t know how they would tell if you hadn’t complied, but as I am trying to be a more moral person in preparation for parenthood I followed the rules.

And you know, the tracks actually sound really good!

So here is (what I think is) the best: the big aria from Lulu. Right-click to download.

Lied der Lulu

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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So even though I missed a few days, my self-imposed challenge to blog every day for two weeks has been a success – between Sept. 16 and Sept. 30 I posted 14 times.

Best day for traffic was Sept. 21, when I published The View From the Council Chamber. New readers, however, soon realized that they could expect little in the way of political commentary and a lot in the way of knitting, dogs, self-centred musings about pregnancy, and other things of interest mainly to me and me alone, and so did not stick around.

Anyway, I fully intended to post yesterday and the day before, but Friday I was engaged on Important Adult Business and forgot, and yesterday I came rather dramatically down with a cold. Seriously, I was feverish, dizzy, seeing starbursts, and generally feeling very ill. If I had posted yesterday I imagine it would have been very Lovecraft-y and incoherent. Fortunately I followed my midwife’s advice – “If you feel unwell, see if it goes away after food, water, and rest; if not, call me” – and am much better. I still feel very scattered, though, as some siding for the refinished back room arrived and is currently taking up half the living room, and that plus two days of neglect have caused a sort of clutter explosion that I’m not up to dealing with yet. I find myself making detailed plans out loud about very basic things – “OK, I’ll put the sheets in the wash now and take them to the laundry to dry when the stock pot is on for dinner” – confusing Madeline a good deal.

But on the positive, my replacement DealExtreme tablet arrived on Friday, so at least I’ve been able to make snide blog comments while lying in bed with a fever.

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Here’s something I didn’t know:

Activity/Fatalities Per Million Hours

Skydiving –  128.71

General Aviation –  15.58

On-road Motorcycling –  8.80

Scuba Diving  –  1.98

Living (all causes of death)  –  1.53

Swimming  –  1.07

Snowmobiling –  .88

Automobile Driving  –  .47

Water Skiing  –  .28

Bicycling  – .26

Flying (domestic airlines) –  .15

Hunting  –  .08

First of all I’m a bit surprised that motorcycling is so dangerous and hunting so safe, but the big surprise is:

Automobile Driving –  .47

Bicycling  – .26

Cycling is actually *safer* than driving!

And before you say “Well, that’s because people drive more than they bike!”, remember that this statistic is deaths per million hours. The denominator IS the amount of time people spend doing the activity, so that criticism is totally untrue.

I suppose that, if cycling replaced driving as the default form of transport (a vain hope that one is!), we would get a lot more bicycle-bicycle collisions. Casual googling does not uncover fatality rates for this kind of collision, but  I would imagine that, due to lower speeds and relative equality in weight between the two parties, that injuries would be less severe and fatalities fewer than with bicycle-car collisions.

Maybe there’s data from Holland or China or something.

Anyway. I feel like printing that chart out and showing it to people whenever they tell me to be careful on my bike. Who knew, when I failed to get my driver’s license and make the kind of money that would pay to run a car in Toronto, I was actually making a rational decision for my own safety!

h/t EcoVelo 

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You know how that dude with the poorly-named “Family Radio” station thinks the world is going to end on May 21?

Well, hold your horses.  Yes, I know that the world is – as always – filled with war, famine, terror, and destruction, but maybe this isn’t the end just yet.

Or it’s hell freezing over.  Who knows?

I had a whole extremely pessimistic post about the election ready, about how it was bound to be either a Conservative minority or a Liberal minority and I might as well stock up on gas masks and form “Evil Diva Productions: The Militant Wing”, when Ben said, “Didn’t you know? The NDP could totally do OK this time.”

(He didn’t say it exactly like that.)

And while I know the NDP probably won’t win, it does hearten me to know that they’re not far off.  Also that even in my riding, where you could run a cactus for Parliament and it would probably win as long as it was a Liberal cactus, NDP candidate Matthew Kellway seems to have a chance.

Anyway, go vote!  Remember, a vote for Harper is a vote for Cthulhu!

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This week: BETTER times on planet Earth. I promise!

Look, we are going to be positive if it KILLS US!

Just to get it out of the way, a list of things to not be positive about:

– earthquake, tsunami, nuclear disaster
– bombing of Libya (even if you don’t like Quaddafi, this is still people getting killed, and that’s bad)
– Rob Ford continues to be Rob Ford, and continues to be mayor
– Infected mystery wound on Madeline’s back. It’s much better now, but she had to be watched like a hawk for two days to stop her from licking it obsessively.
– The power supply has died AGAIN on the EEE
– Still can’t get the ARCHOS 70 in Canada!
– Still having early-awakening insomnia!
– Which means I have officially turned into both my mother AND my father.
I forsee my middle age will consist of me dozing off after dinner while wearing a matching tracksuit.

And now, things to be positive about:

– It’s too late to do it now, but if you purchased Plants vs. Zombies this weekend, you not only got a discount but 70% of what you paid was donated to the Red Cross. Also you got an awesome game. I’ve beaten it three times now and I still love it.
– It sort of feels like spring outside. It even got up to 10C for a bit.
– We’re making the original cast recording for Fallen Voices on Thursday! And it is going to be awesome! And have awesome packaging.
– I took the plunge and bought a ticket to Saskatoon for Easter. While I am there my sister and I will play the Anne of Green Gables drinking game. Good times.

OK, that’s enough for now. I’m going to go play some more Plants vs. Zombies before I practice.

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